Not available in 2020/21
SP435      Half Unit
Housing, Neighbourhoods and Communities

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof John Hills OLD 2.62


This course is available on the MSc in City Design and Social Science, MSc in International Social and Public Policy, MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Development), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (LSE and Fudan), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Migration), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Non-Governmental Organisations) and MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Research). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

All Social Policy Courses are ‘Controlled Access’. Please see the link below for further details on the allocation process.


There are no prerequisites to take this course.

Course content

This course introduces MSc students to the links between housing, neighbourhoods and social and public policies, in the context of housing systems in the UK, Europe and North America.  It examines: how housing and neighbourhoods have evolved in UK and Europe, and contrasts in the USA; the rise of mass housing estates, the role of government and housing management; housing markets – supply, demand, need and affordability; owner-occupation and taxation; sustaining neighbourhoods through upgrading, and dangers of segregation and gentrification; housing wealth and assets, inheritance and polarisation; private renting, housing benefits and regulation; social housing, subsidies, rents and affordability; community-led and community-based housing; sustainable housing solutions, retrofit, fuel poverty and energy saving.  The course uses live case studies to illustrate the main themes.


15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT. 3 hours of lectures and 3 hours of seminars in the ST.

There are also organised site/project visits. The course provides many case study examples for students to draw on.

Formative coursework

Students participate actively in seminars, make two class presentations and complete one formative essay, drawing on case study evidence.

Students are invited to join site visits which illustrate key housing themes.

Indicative reading

  • A. Power From Hovels to High Rise, 1993; Estates on the Edge, 1999.
  • L. Hanley Estates: a personal history, 2004.
  • J. Hills Ends And Means: The Future Roles Of Social Housing In England, 2007.
  • A. Power et al. Jigsaw Cities 2007; Cities for a Small Continent, 2016.
  • R.Lupton et al Social Policy in a Cold Climate, 2016.
  • H. Glennerster Understanding the Cost of Welfare 2017.
  • A. Power and B. Provan, Overcoming the stigma of social housing, 2018.


Exam (66.7%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Essay (33.3%, 2000 words) in the LT.

Essay based on a housing case study or policy initiative

Teachers' comment

This half unit course introduces MSc students to the links between housing, neighbourhoods and social and public policies affecting housing. How did our homes get built and our cities develop? Why do people live where they do? Are cities becoming more segregated?  Why do the ways in which housing markets operate cause problems for policy-makers?  How do taxation, subsidy, benefit and regulation policies affect tenants and owners?  How do we choose between different kinds of support, and what effects do those systems have? Do attempts to regenerate areas in decline work – or do they only lead to gentrification? Are new or existing housing areas more be environmentally sustainable?  Has there been a long-term decline in the ‘sense of community’? Who makes the key decisions that affect housing and neighbourhoods?  Do residents have any say? This course aims to answer questions such as these, with a concise introduction to theory, arguments and evidence on housing, neighbourhoods and communities. It draws evidence from the UK, continental Europe and the US.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2019/20: 23

Average class size 2019/20: 12

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills